Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
June 14, 2021 - Champions Indoor Football (CIF)
Empire Baseball League: The six-team independent Empire League started its 2021 season this week with only four participating teams that include the New Hampshire Rhinos (Concord) and three upper New York teams called the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds, Saranac Lake Surge and Tupper Lake Riverpigs. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the 2021 schedule will not include the league's Georgia Rhinos (Conyers) and Puerto Rico Islanders and all games will be played in New York and New Hampshire. The 2021 schedule ends in early August. Last season, only the Saranac Lake Surge and Tupper Lake Riverpigs played as part of a month-long (September) competition in Washington (PA) with two other teams called the Black Sox Road Warriors and the Brilliance Sox.
American Association: The independent American Association's expansion team to be located in the far western Milwaukee suburb of Oconomowoc (WI) will be called the Lake County DockHounds when it starts play in the 2022 season. Construction has started on a new ballpark for the team.
Yinzer Baseball Confederacy: The Yinzer Baseball Confederacy, which was a four-team baseball league created last season as a coronavirus (COVID-19) replacement league at the home of the Frontier League's Washington (PA) Wild Things, started play in its 2021 season last weekend. The league is run by Black Sox Baseball and has four teams called the Black Sox, Brilliance Baseball Sox, Killer Bees and the Wolfpac. Games will be played at Wild Things Park while the Frontier League's Washington Wild Things are on the road or in the mornings and afternoons prior to Wild Things' games. Participation is by invitation-only and players are not paid. The league plans to play 65-80 games this summer.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced teams called the Savannah BattleCats and the SBC Elite Ballers of Virginia have been added as a 2021-22 expansion teams. The ABA also restated the addition of the Louisville Colonels as a 2021-22 expansion team.
National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA G-League's Canton (OH) Charge, which is the G-League affiliate owned by the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, is moving to downtown Cleveland and will make the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University its home starting with the 2021-22 season. The Charge has been owned and operated by the Cleveland Cavaliers since the team was moved to Canton for the 2011-12 season. Details on the team's name are still to be announced.
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA announced the start of its 2021 season will be on July 24, 2021. The league states it has 38 teams, but it is uncertain if all teams will be participating in the 2021 season. The WABA announced a 2022 expansion team called the LA Maples based in the Lewiston-Auburn (ME) market.
Canadian Elite Basketball League: The seven-team professional CEBL received permission from health officials in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan to start its 2021 season on June 24, but it will be a city-by-city decision as to whether fans will be in attendance. The league had to push the start of the 2021 season back from an April start and reduce the number of games played per team from 20 to 14. Last season, the CEBL was forced to play a shortened 2020 summertime schedule over a two-week period with all games played at one location in St. Catharines (Ontario).
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF's two teams called the West Texas Warbirds (Odessa) and Amarillo Venom, which are voluntarily sitting out the 2021 CIF season due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, started their independent schedules last weekend in a Lone Star Series. Each team is playing two games against each other, along with one game each against lower-level Texas-based teams called the San Antonio Valor, Arlington Bulldogs and Texas Jets. Last weekend's game was the Warbirds' first game because the team was added as an expansion team for the 2020 season that was cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Global Arena League: The new professional 8-on-8 GAL is in the planning stages for a proposed start in April 20220 and eventually wants to have teams in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.
Eastern Arena Football League: The new developmental EAFL plans to start its inaugural season on September 4, 2021. The league currently lists seven teams called the Kentuckiana Kurse (Louisville), Gem City Spartans (Springfield, IL), Houston Maulers, New Jersey Warriors (Egg Harbor Township), South Carolina Snipers (Charleston), Arkansas Grim Reapers and Fayetteville Ducks.
American Hockey League: The AHL announced schedule details and the league alignment for the 2021-22 season that will feature all 31 teams with the return of the Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals and Springfield (MA) Thunderbirds teams that voluntarily sat out the 2020-21 season. The Canadian Division has been eliminated with the return to a normal alignment that will feature the Eastern Conference with an eight-team Atlantic Division and seven-team North Division, and the Western Conference with a seven-team Central Division and a nine-team Pacific Division. The Stockton Heat returns to the Pacific Division after being based in Calgary and part of the 2020-21 Canadian Division. The Pacific Division also added the yet-to-be-named Abbotsford (British Columbia) team, which was relocated from Utica (NY). Other changes include the Binghamton Devils relocating to become a new version of the Utica Comets, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers being renamed the Bridgeport Islanders.
ECHL: The minor professional ECHL announced its new Trois-Rivieres (Quebec) team will be called the Trois-Rivieres Lions when it starts play in the 2021-22 season. The city had a former minor professional hockey team by that name for five seasons (1955-60). The new Trois-Rivieres team will serve as the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens and the American Hockey League's Laval Rocket (Quebec).
Southern Professional Hockey League: The SPHL held the player draft to stock its expansion team called the Vermilion County Bobcats (Danville, IL) that will start play in the 2021-22 season. The Bobcats will be added to the North Division that will include the league's five teams that sat out the 2020-21 season, while the five teams that participated in the 2020-21 season will form the South Division.
United States Hockey League: The Tier-I junior-level USHL announced its 2021-22 schedule this week that will feature all 16 teams playing a 62-game season and an alignment with an eight-team Eastern Conference and an eight-team Western Conference. The Madison Capitols and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are returning to play after voluntarily sitting out last season. The 2021-22 schedule will feature more regional games to minimize travel.
National Indoor Soccer League: The proposed new NISL, which plans to start play in December 2021 with both a men's and a women's division, officially announced the Fayetteville (NC) Fury as its second team along with the previously announced Memphis Americans.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced the addition of a San Diego expansion team that will join with the previously announced Angel City FC (Los Angeles) expansion team and grow the league to 12 teams for the 2022 season. The owner of the new San Diego team recently pulled out of the men's Major League Soccer expansion team in Sacramento and moved a proposed Sacramento-based NWSL team to San Diego. A women's professional team called the San Diego Spirit was part of all three seasons (2001-03) in the former Women's United Soccer Association. Based on polling and focus groups, the league's first-season Kansas City NWSL is trying to decide on a team nickname. Some of the more favorable choices are Rivers, Fountains, Crossroads, Champions, Heartland and Two States-One City. The team wants to announce the new name in the upcoming off-season.
United Soccer League W-League: The USL announced the return of the W-League in May 2022 as an elite-level pre-professional league similar to the men's USL League Two. The league will have eight teams with seven of the teams started by current men's teams in either the USL Championship, USL League One or USL League Two. The first eight W-League teams will be located in Hartford, Chattanooga, Greenville (SC), Kansas City (KS), Washington (DC), Queens (NY), Statesboro (GA) and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The USL's previous version of the W-League operated from 1995 through the 2015 season. For the 1998 through 2001 seasons the league had two levels-a W-League 1 and a W-League 2.
American Ultimate Disc League: The professional AUDL started its 2021 season last weekend for the 19 teams based in the United states. These teams are aligned in a five-team Central, an eight-team Atlantic and a six-team West. Each team will play a 12-game schedule through August. The AUDL's three Canadian teams-the Montreal Royal, Ottawa Outlaws and Toronto Rush-are not participating in the regular-season due to cross-border travel restrictions. These teams are supposed to play a separate Canadian Cup schedule that is still to be announced.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.
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